「Real Me Doesn’t Exist」
Sometimes, we don’t know who exactly our true self is, but just knowing that one exists and having the resolve to find it out can be just as important as its eventual acceptance. Both Rise and Kuma weren’t as lucky as the others, who had Shadows that spelled out exactly who their true self was, but they do share the determination to discover it. This mere realization is enough to awaken their Personas.
After the previous episode ended with only a small glimpse of Shadow Rise’s Mayonaka TV program, we were treated to every single inch of it this week. It seems like each new character’s show is a little bit more risqué than the last, which makes Yuu’s foresight in setting up his VCR all the more brilliant. That man is determined to save every second of Rise’s striptease, furiously pounding away on his remote’s record button. Yuu’s not alone in his enthusiasm either – Yousuke shows way more excitement at seeing Risette stripping than concern over the fact that it means that Rise has been kidnapped and the Investigation Team has failed once again.
At least this means that they’re all back inside Mayonaka TV and reunited with Kuma once again, who’s distraught at being left alone inside the TV world. I can definitely see where he’s coming from though, questioning himself after being forgotten by his so-called friends for weeks at a time. Probably doesn’t help either when Yukiko tells him “We think of you sometimes!” The girl is refreshingly and endearingly honest, I’ll give her that. She’s like an awkward quirky cute girl, kind of like a Zooey Deschanel. The Investigation Team shouldn’t take Kuma for granted though because he is undeniably useful, using Rise’s scent from her cell phone (how/when did they find that?) to lead them to our newest dungeon, Marukyu Striptease, an even steamier setting than Kanji’s bathhouse.
Whenever a new dungeon is introduced, I always enjoy the reactions from the last person rescued, and Kanji delivered in spades. His role in using Take-Mikazuchi’s overwhelming physical strength to defeat the Persistent Fuzz came as nice surprise after his hilarious search for his “disguise” glasses, similar to Kozue from Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin. An unexpected but welcome change from the game is that instead of meeting one Risette, we get seven, and they’re all in different outfits too, which is probably quite appropriate for a strip club. Among the seven Risettes is Shadow Risette, probably the only pole dancer to ever appear in an anime, as far as I know. Once again, Yousuke gets his priorities mixed up as his pervert arcana takes over and he’s able to remember exactly which outfit Rise wore in which photo album. The Team is lucky that they have Chie to keep him in line, or they might have done what I always did in the game – left him at home in Inaba.
Overall, Persona 4 has stayed fairly true to the game in regards to the strength and weaknesses of both the Personas and their enemies, so whenever there is a difference, it’s made all the more visible. Even though Chie’s Tomoe Gozen has the best physical attacks, they’ve translated Kanji’s physical prowess onto his Persona’s, and while they’ve shown the Persistent Fuzz reflecting back all magical attacks, none of the attacks were actually reflected towards the Personas or their users. Minor inconsistencies aside, the action scenes were much better animated than the scenes in prior episodes and more enjoyable as a result. It’s always nice to be reminded that there are Personas needed to do the fighting, that all the awakenings the characters have gone through haven’t been for nothing.
Even with all of Kanji’s heroics, it’s not enough. Rise utters the magic words and a sultry Shadow Rise turns into the most fearsome boss the team has seen yet, and probably sets a precedent in both anime and video games as the first pole-dancing boss and also the first one to use said poles as weapons. If that’s not enough for you to call her overpowered, she’s also able to completely analyze all the Personas’ strengths and weaknesses to dodge their attacks and deliver her own in return, only to be thwarted by the scene-stealing Kuma.
Seriously, someone give this bear his own spin-off show already. No one is able to dole out quality comedic lines interspersed with deep insights and bear puns quite like Kuma. Whether it’s throwing his own bear-tiful fur on the line with a grizzly suicide attack to defeat Shadow Rise and saving everyone on the team, or arguing with his own shadow while inside his own shadow, Kuma handles it all with style to spare. Even his eventual Persona, Kintoki-Douji, is dripping with awesome – it’s hanging from a Tomahawk cruise missile! Unfortunately, style can’t overcome everything, so it’s a good thing that Rise’s Himiko and his trusty sensei’s Izanagi return the favor by saving the day with her battle analysis and his stabbing, although a nice focused Ziodyne would have been much cooler to see.
After not one, but two epic battles, you’d think the Investigation Team would get some rest and Yuu would be able to get closer to his new harem member, but it seems like they have more work cut out for them when another body appears, hanging from another antenna.